The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak [Book review]

bastard_of_istanbul

Title : The Bastard of Istanbul

Author : Elif Shafak

ISBN : 9780670038343

Publisher : Penguin

Genre : Contemporary Fiction

Pages : 368

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars

 

 

 

 

A story of generations of secrets over the span of 20 years in the eyes of the women, all so different and yet so unconditional. (The women who have managed the curse of kazanchi family).

It starts with a 19 old turk on her way to get an abortion on a rainy afternoon and ends 20 years later after the revelation of secrets, deaths and the spiritual links are established among the ones destined. A family with no past and a family that cannot get over the past cross each other’s paths only to realise that you cannot run away from past and neither can you suppress it respectively over the beautiful narration of Elif Shafak, the queen of creative writing. Beautifully written with a light and airy atmosphere that allows you to breathe, The Bastard of Istanbul follows the story of two girls and their families, one Turkish, one Armenian American, and how their histories interweave.

The book is an excellent portrayal into the current Turkish society, hanging between the East and West, pushing strongly away from the former, and not fully accepted by the later. Described correctly by one character as, “we are stuck. We are stuck between the East and the West. Between the past and the future.”

The story deals with much of country’s history starting from the Ottoman Empire, the relationship between Armenians and Turks, the genocide, the executions and eradication of intellectuals and the banishment of the latter out of the country with a hint of magic and malice. The city of Istanbul with its flavors and smells and overall, the importance of the food and spices in this book was such a delight bringer.

The ending will blow your mind out of its proportions and the story will linger for quite sometime.

When it comes to Elif Shafak, I pick up the novel without even having to read the synopsis before. Elilf Shafak is a wonderful story-teller. I was drawn to the story from the first chapter.  Through her narration she interests you in everything happening to the characters and brings a very political and critical touch to the story.

The descriptions and words used by the author are detailed. The chapter titles are catchy and I love how they are related to the events of the story. This book taught me a lot about Turkey and the conflicts between Turks and Armenians. Motivated me to learn more about the history of both.

A must read for those looking forward to knowing more about Turkey and its problematic position between Europe and Asia. Wonderful book, beautifully written and emotional, too, without becoming sentimental. I won’t be able to get over the ending for days.

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